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Key tools to improve education in emergencies

BANGKOK and NEW YORK, 7 JULY 2010 – UNICEF and partners today announced key minimum standards for education to help children around the world impacted by emergencies, including the 25 million children globally affected by conflict who are missing out on their right to primary education.

The Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response and Recovery” updates a highly successful 2004 handbook that was translated into 23 languages and used in more than 80 countries by education and development professionals during emergencies.

“UNICEF’s experience in emergencies shows that one of the best things for children is to get them back in school,” said Ellen van Kalmthout, Senior Education Specialist of UNICEF. “This handbook is an important tool to help government officials, international aid workers and other partners react when emergencies strike, schools are damaged and destroyed, and children’s education is at risk.”

The 114-page handbook, produced by the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) and supported by UNICEF, aims to raise the quality of education in emergency situations and provides a universal framework for ensuring the right to education for children affected by crisis. The 2010 edition encourages preparedness, response and recovery. It also focuses on the links between education, disaster risk reduction and conflict mitigation.

The standards also hold the humanitarian community accountable for providing quality education without discrimination, and for coordinating their efforts to ensure the best possible outcome for children in need.
In the aftermath of the 2009 Sumatran earthquake in Indonesia, UNICEF and its partners employed the Minimum Standards to conduct a rapid needs assessment for emergency education and to plan a response accordingly. Key responders and partners used the guidelines as a common map to move forward.

In Vanuatu, the government, UNICEF and partners have used the Minimum Standards to develop a comprehensive emergency education preparedness plan covering the needs of children up to 2015. Pacific islands are prone to disasters, such as the tsunami that hit Samoa and Tonga in 2009.

“The East Asia and the Pacific region is particularly susceptible to natural disasters and emergencies. In comparison with other regions across the world, these events are more frequent and severe here,” said Gary Ovington, UNICEF’s Senior Emergency Education Specialist for Asia and the Pacific. “These guidelines are essential to UNICEF’s work in East Asia and the Pacific, not only in responding to emergencies, but in helping countries be prepared before a crisis hits.”

The new standards are flexible enough to be a practical guide for response at the community level while also providing national governments and other authorities with a framework to coordinate their education activities.

INEE Guidance Notes on Teaching and Learning, INEE Reference Guide on External Education Financing and INEE Gender Pocket Guide will also be launched along with the 2010 edition of the Minimum Standards.  Visit for further information.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

For further information, please contact:
Geoffrey Keele, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, Bangkok, Tel: +662-356-9407,
Shimali Senanayake, UNICEF Media, New York, Tel: + 1 917 265 4516,






Related link

What we do in the region: Education in emergencies


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